A memorial football game has been held for nearly 15 years to celebrates the life of a founding member

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What started as just a game of football between friends a day after Christmas, has turned into a tradition that’s lasted more than 20 years.

December 26 means it’s game day at Madison Elementary School in Davenport.

The founders of the football game started in 1996 when they were sophomores in high school. One of the original members died 15 years ago and since then they play in his honor.

Most of the founders who started the tradition have since moved from the Quad Cities, but try to come when they can to play the special game, said founding member Derek DePardo.

“Most of the people that are playing today are all pretty local, there’s years where we’ve had friends that are in from Indiana, Damian will make it a few years from Los Angeles,” said DePardo. “Those friends from high school are able to be back and playing that game is kinda special for us to rekindle those friendships even for a day.”

Isiah Ponciano still remembers when he was asked to play along with his younger brother Matthew Ponciano.

“I was ecstatic, it was just such because the meaning behind it, it doesn’t necessarily have to be competitive, it’s the meaning behind it personally but yeah, I was ecstatic,” said Isiah.

Matthew said he remembers his uncle when he’s out on the field.

“This will be my fourth year here and I don’t know every time I’m here it just makes me realize what a good uncle I had and it’s upsetting that he’s gone now,” Matthew.

Matthew Craff is another founding member and said no matter what the weather is like, they never miss a game.

“One day there was what like three feet of snow on the ground and we’re out here playing football,” said Craff.

As for Isiah every December 26, he’ll be out on the field scoring a touch down in honor of his uncle.

“It means a lot to me because it’s a tradition that we get to carry on in memory of our uncle,” said Isiah.

The next football game will take place again next year at Madison Elementary School in Davenport.

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